Injured France and Belgium

1918

A New York Times reporter on 12 December 1918 described how the German army had operated in Belgium:

‘This morning I visited the great Cockerill plant at Seraing near Liege … In normal times it employs 10,000 hands.   … Now not an ingot of steel can be made  … for the Germans have … smashed it up or taken it off to Germany . …

The Germans deliberately aimed at crippling Belgian industry for several years so as to enable their own mills and factories to capture markets’.    p.14

The German devastation of France was so horrendous that the German delegates, en route for Versailles, could scarcely bear to look at it.  Brigadier General Morgan recorded how factories were wrecked ‘… not by shellfire but by the sabotage of German sappers all along the line of the Meuse between Liege and Namur.  Monsieur Gruener, the President of the Civil Engineers of France, declared that some 200 coal mines had been made unworkable for years.   p.36

1919

A further treaty was signed on 28 June, in which Wilson and Lloyd George promised that their countries would come to the aid of France ‘in the event of an unprovoked attack by Germany’.  Clemenceau was delighted.  Indeed, the sine qua non of him reluctantly relinquishing his insistence on moving France’s frontier to the Rhine was the British alliance.  However, the British guarantee was conditional on America’s signing an analogous Treaty.  When, later, this treaty was rejected by the Senate, Britain’s pledge lapsed.  So the Treaty that Clemenceau had declared was ‘the keystone of European peace’ became the ‘Treaty that never was’.    p.46

.1921

The French … were incandescent with fury that they had received no money for the devastation of Northern France …. Had not the reparations commission just announced that Germany had less internal debt than France and a fraction of its external debt?  M de Lasteyrie, for the finance committee of the French parliament, declared that ‘France must be paid.  If Germany refuses, France must go in herself and exact payment’.  He was applauded by the entire parliament.       p.81-2

1922

… the German government declared that the mark could only be stabilised if the country was released from all reparations payments for the next three or four years.  Poincaré tried to negotiate (over the non-delivery of reparations coal) but the Germans made every sort of objection – even insisting that there could be no discussions until France admitted a share of responsibility for the outbreak of the War.    p.98

1923

(The French received much odium for marching into the Ruhr to secure the timber and coal reparations deliveries due to them)

1924

As the Allies’ hold over Germany was tenuous, France tried to ensure its security by political means.  The Geneva Protocol proposed that all signatories to the League of Nations would come to each other’s defence if subjected to an unprovoked attack.  The Protocol was couched in Olympian terms but its message was plain.  France felt that Germany was still a threat.  .. France pleaded with Britain to pledge help in its defence but weakened Britain felt unable to give it that assurance.  The Geneva Protocol failed.   p.126

1927

It is no wonder that, despite Locarno, the French were still fearful about their security.  However, Aristide Briand was ever an optimist.  He asked America for a bilateral security deal … on the tenth anniversary of American intervention in the First World War.

The Americans were not enamoured of the idea.  … However, Secretary of State Frank Kellog rose to the occasion and proposed a multilateral agreement (the Kellog-Briand Pact) in which all the signatories would renounce war.  … some influential Americans dubbed it ‘worthless but harmless’   ..  Few paused to think why France should be so fearful about its security, over ten years after the war.         p.129

1929

Despite the Locarno Treaty, the French still feared another invasion.  The construction of the Maginot Line, proposed in 1927 armed and built between 1929 and 1934 was an immense undertaking.  The great fortresses, ‘armed with cannon, mortars and machine guns’, were connected by railway tracks ‘to barracks and magazines deep underground’ so that they could be impervious to bombs. p.156

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  • How Hitler Came To Power Press Release

              How Hitler Came To Power describes how what amounted to a conspiracy of the German military and industrial cliques, manipulated Allied leaders and misrepresented the Treaty of Versailles to further their ambitions, with zero regard for the human cost.
             Germany was far stronger economically by 1929 than she had been before the First World War. How Hitler Came To Power makes the case that she was primarily responsible for the Wall Street crash. By 1931 she was the greatest exporter in the world, with a mountain of cash in the bank. Yet the German people were subjected to high taxation, mass unemployment and misinformation in the cause of ridding Germany of the shackles of Versailles and returning the country to dictatorship